Will Republicans Hand Democrats a Massive Christmas Present?
Bipartisan bill is now the last chance for concealed carry reciprocity

By Michael Hammond

Remember how former Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe worked night-and-day to restore the rights of 173,000 criminals and drug dealers during his administration?

The intention was to create thousands of new “Hillary voters” for the 2016 elections in Virginia. And it worked. Some now believe that McAuliffe has made Virginia permanently “blue.”

Republicans are about to do the same thing on the national level -- with the help of Donald Trump’s Democrat-leaning relatives in the White House.

The Senate draft version of the sentencing bill would prospectively ease sentences of drug dealers, murderers, and rapists.

In addition, prisoners deemed “low risk” could participate in programs which would reduce their sentences and put them back out into the community.

This explicitly includes prisoners who have engaged in carjacking resulting in serious injury, assault on law enforcement with a deadly weapon, and trafficking in heroin. (And take into consideration, that this is what they plead guilty to, not what they actually did.)

In some cases (such as crack cocaine), the sentencing reductions would be retroactive. You can bet that anti-gun Democrats will be scouring the list of criminals for potential voters before the next election.

The good news is that the Senate committee has deleted the explicitly anti-gun provisions that GOA has complained about for years. Hence, the increased sentences for gun-owning veterans -- and the mandatory minimums for gunsmiths who violate ITAR are out! Congratulations on your hard work!

But this is still a bill that would provide an electoral advantage to anti-gun Democrats, at the same time that their Party steadfastly squash EVERY element of the Republicans' pro-gun agenda.

So here’s an idea: There are 59 senators who, at one time, have supported reciprocity. This is not enough to invoke cloture (that is, overcome a filibuster), but it is enough to add reciprocity as an amendment to the sentencing bill.

Similarly, we believe there are over 50 votes to recommence funding for a federal program -- established by the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act -- to allow non-violent “prohibited persons” to petition for a restoration of their gun rights.

If Congress is going to fall over itself to restore the vote for convicted criminals, why shouldn’t they get other constitutional rights restored as well -- or at least have the option of petitioning a court for the restoration of their rights?

So, we would suggest this to the Senate: If you’re going to dump hundreds of thousands of anti-gun “blue” voters into the electorate, gun owners should have an opportunity to see votes on reciprocity and restoration of rights -- before the new “blue” House begins to push its genuinely Orwellian anti-gun agenda.

Please contact your senators (at 202-224-3121). Ask them to vote for concealed carry reciprocity and gun-rights-restoration amendments if they are offered to the sentencing bill.

Michael Hammond is the Legislative Counsel for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots organization representing more than 1.5 million gun owners.